Storming Down The Coast...
Tackling a new adventure is never easy. I guess that's why in the past folks have left trying new things to that kid named Mikey on those Life Cereal commercials. But, human nature prods us to investigate the world around us. I guess that explains why instead of eating cereal, I ate paint chips and drank out of the dog bowl as a kid. It also might have been the result of my sister removing all of the "Mr. Yuk" stickers and placing them on her dolls. My point is, and sometimes, because of the paint chips and other things I may have investigated throughout life, it takes me a while to have a point-is that too many of us sit stagnant. Too many of us seek out the world by watching images of far off places and other people's reality and only dream of creating our own experiences.
True, the mind is a great tool for travel. It can take you on an ultra-supersonic jet ride and land you in a far off remote location faster than one of my farts can empty a crowded movie theater. But thank God for cinema fanatics everywhere, my smelly butt doesn't like to sit back, relax and enjoy the show. My cheeks prefer the saddle. I'm compelled to twist the throttle towards real experiences in search of life-in search of freedom. Naturally, I turned to those who knew a little something about it: the forefathers of our country. So I embarked on a Freedom Tour-riding an '08 Victory Vision Street from, D.C., to Savannah. If any of you Victory marketing guys are reading this, please loan me a Arlen Ness Vision for a tour to Alaska this summer.
I found freedom in our nation's capital city where we have a giant phallic monument and I found freedom in the 18th Century, via Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia, where I was clearly the only male who knew anything about hair hygiene. Confused? Read the last two issue of Baggers for clarification. It was when I ventured to North Carolina that freedom and Mother Nature challenged me to a duel-much like that whole Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton thing back in the day. Feel free to pause and look it up.
At first I was a coward regarding the weather. Sure, I had the right gear and everything thanks to the dudes at First Gear, but I was talking back and forth in my mind. Do I look stupid in full black and neon yellow rain gear-instead of tough guy leather? Will other bikers accept me? Is my bike cool enough? Look at the internet and check out the biker chatrooms. They are filled with talks ranging from whether it's cool to have a windshield or what leather vests are the best. Bikers are meant to be as free as possible. Worrying about whether or not you are wearing the cool biker costume of the month defeats the entire purpose. I said screw-it, manned up, and charged into the storm that awaited me on the Outer Banks. Learn from my mistake and call 511 for road conditions and ferry schedules before you head out.
The sky didn't puke all over me until I showed up a few minutes too late to check out the Wright Brothers National Museum located south of Kitty Hawk in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. I wanted to get a look at the birthplace of flight ever since my sister pushed me off our balcony when I was in third grade. As I showed up, the menacing-OK not menacing, but he looked like he hated his job-guy in the brown uniform closed the gate. It was an omen.
The winds flipped the power switch to high as the rain came down harder. My last chance for a bailout was to take the Washington Baum Bridge onto Roanoke Island. If I were a gambling man, which I am, I'd choose to press my luck and keep heading south past the point of no return. Most intelligent and safe riders would have chosen to do a fancy U-turn and high-tail it back to where they came from at the beginning of the Outer Banks and hop a bridge to the mainland. I never told anyone that I am smart, so I kept battling toward the south end of the Banks.
The road was empty. My copilot was the ocean-a vicious one you might say. But, to me, she seemed shy that day, covering up her deep blue skin with foam and froth. I felt like Christopher Columbus, setting out on a solo mission in high seas. He was, allegedly, out in search of America and I was searching for mental freedom. Oddly, despite the turmoil around me I found calm within. No longer were there any roadside stands or open stores selling crap for "under $1." It was just me on my bike and I guess Ms. Dominatrix Nature cracking her whip.
I actually felt like I might be taking her along for the ride. But I guess she sensed that because suddenly the dark sky shot water bullets that crashed into my wind visor. Before I knew it, the road disappeared into a small sand dune. I struggled my way across hoping that I wouldn't drop the bike while straining to see asphalt again. I should have pulled over. I should have set up my tent or at least made a U-turn toward safer pastures. I didn't have time to give up. I already dilly-dallied too much with the powdered wig folks in Virginia.
Two ferry rides are needed to run the entire north to south stretch of the navigable Outer Banks. My first mistake was not bringing a ferry schedule. My second mistake was not calling ahead to make reservations. If I did that, I would have found out that ferry service was temporally suspended because of the tropical storm.
Normally it would take two hours to drive the 60-mile stretch back to the northerly mainland. That night, a rough four to five hours later, I pulled into the first hotel I saw and smiled. This is life, and like Mikey from those commercials, I like it.
Legends and hard to pronounce names abound along the length of the Tar Heel coast: the Seven Sisters of Nags Head, Shallote's swamps, and Blackbeard's Ocracoke hideout.
Remember when monster trucks were as cool as WWF? Then make a pitstop to Diggers Dungeon, home of the Grave Digger (gravedigger.com) in Poplar Branch.
The World's Largest Hammock (nagsheadhammocks.com) is 42-feet long, holds up to 8,000 pounds and was woven out of nearly 10,000 feet of rope. Check it out at Nag's Head Hammocks (Point Harbor) and do not attempt to make love in it, even if it's a solo session.
Breakfast lunch and dinner. For the best chowder around stop by Sam & Omies (samandomies.net) in Nag's Head.
Surfers, kiteboarders hang gliders, and whales all love to hang out at Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and National Seashore (nps.gov/caha). Don't forget to check out the nation's tallest brick lighthouse and stay the night at one of the pristine campgrounds. If you need some exercise hike up the 248 iron steps to the top of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.
Some Finnish dude built a bunch of portable houses in the 60's. He called them Futuro Houses. The Outer Banks UFO (futurohouse.com) in Buxton is a prime example of what kind of herbs they used to smoke in Finland. The UFO used to be someone's home and then became a restaurant. It is currently being used as a dilapidated roadside attraction. Ninety-six others were built. Please send us a note if you have seen one.
Edward Thatch, better known as Blackbeard died from 20-plus sword stabbings and five gunshot wounds in a bloody battle near Teach's Hole on Ocracoke Island. Memorialize his death (and decapitation) with various piratical piratephernalia from Teach's Hole-Pirate Specialty Shop and Blackbeard Exhibit (teachshole.com).
It's All In The Name
Kill Devil Hills - named after the rum that washed ashore after shipwrecks. The hooch was so gnarly that the locals said"it would kill the devil".
Nags Head- pirates would tie a lantern to a horse (nag) while it walked down the beach, luring dumb ship captains to wreck on the shore and be plundered.
Riding in crosswinds, hard rain, and drifting sand can be a harrowing experience. You might be able to live through Mother Nature's worst if you first breathe and relax. Then remember to ride smooth, don't white knuckle the bars and keep your head up.
*** Wind Blows**
Trust the bike. Be thankful that you have two powerful gyroscopes under your butt. Because of the forces of the wheels turning, the wind won't blow you over. Even though it may feel safe to use a semi truck as a buffer, do not do this. The big-rig reacts like a huge sail and could take you out if a big gust comes by. Riding in wind will make you a better rider-it's going to make you work, think and react. Stay within your limits.
*** Sand Slips**
Relax. Deep sand only feels out of control. Stay loose on the bars and let the front end squirm around. As long as you're on the gas (not burning out) and balanced the bike will stay up. Keep the weight off the front tire and lean back. If emergency braking is required, expect to go down. Keep off the front brake altogether-use throttle and gentle rear braking in the sand. Once the weight transfers to the front wheel, it'll bury itself. Do not focus right in front of you; look ahead. Keep your eyes scanning down the road or you will go down. If you can ride in sand, you can ride on anything.
*** Rain Falls**
Water makes you wet. Stay dry by always carrying rain gear. If you totally screwed up on your packing, you can wrap yourself with large trash bags and hope for the best. Ride in the path of the tire trails left by vehicles in front of you since it will be the area on the road with the least amount of water on it. This area also has the least amount of oil on the road. Deep puddles often lead to deep potholes. Painted lines, potholes, the first 15 minutes of the rainstorm (before oil has a chance to wash away), and random nude women frolicking in the streets of the storm are you worse hazards.